How in the world do people preserve with kids in the picture? Just a couple years ago this was a question I didn’t want to try to answer. The thought of adding in canning or dehydrating to-do’s to my calendar made me feel anxious.
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Then Covid hit and my husband brought up the idea of having a garden. We had no outside obligations and my main argument was that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with it while mothering and homemaking. I gave in with the understanding that we might have a lot of dead plants on our hands. To my surprise, it produced abundantly. I was able to somehow find time to weed but it wasn’t perfect.
Then I began to try out preserving. By the end of that season, this beginner managed to have dozens of canned jars in the pantry, herbs on the shelf and frozen bags of fruit and veggies, not to mention fermented foods and peppers preserved in oil. You can read more on my start in preservation Here.
How did I do it? I really wasn’t sure and that’s why I made this post. Here I go reassessing what I do to make headway in this area while raising four young children (including a recent adoption).
Before I jump in there’s a disclaimer. I’m not the one who should write this. I know people with seven kids who homeschool, have a farm and can food WAY more then I do. There’s always going to be someone a little more knowledgeable right? I’m writing it because I think someone needs to write it. Someone needs to let the mom out there who is overwhelmed know that life isn’t holding you back. You aren’t a victim and/or you can learn new things as a mother. There are ways and it’s ok to not have it be easy and perfect.
Set Aside a Day to Learn a New Skill
There are times that my husband will watch the kids so I can have some time just for myself. Usually I go out with friends or go on a jog. Last summer my husband wanted to help me learn the skill of canning so much that he took the kids out to visit relatives for several hours. While they were gone my shaking hands anxiously attempted pressure canning green beans. I had very little to show for the hours that they’d been gone but I was able to focus on this one skill I wanted to master. I watched YouTube videos over and over.
Truth be told, it’s stressful learning a new skill and I don’t want to do this with kids around me. I CAN’T preserve with kids around me so I do need some time to myself. Most likely if you’re a beginner you do too.
Get Things Done With Friends
The very first time I attempted to can anything was with my friends. I wanted to learn how to can peaches but not alone. So we brought the kids out peach picking and then set aside a day when we could just hang out together and learn together (see idea number one). This cut down on the stress a lot! Did we get a lot done? Nope. Like I said. We were amateurs. Even so, the peaches we finished were great and I learned so much.
I’ve had work days with friends where we help out with housework at each other’s houses. I’ve done meal planning parties with friends and even chores. Completing almost any task is much more fun and rewarding if it’s with a friend. Grab someone you know and invite them to join you!
Freeze Until Ready
If you’re canning fruits or veggies that can be frozen first, then take advantage of it. You don’t have to make strawberry jam in June while overwhelmed with all the peas or cherries ripening too. Feel free to freeze them and come back at a time when things are less hectic: you could even wait until January if you don’t need it yet.
Choose to Preserve WITH Kids
Some preserving can be done with young kids when they have a simple job. Here’s a few ways to preserve with kids.
- Picking fruits and veggies from the garden
- Putting food into freezer bags
- Pitting cherries (my son’s favorite!)
- Loading the Dehydrator
Pick a Less Stressful Day or Week
To keep your stress level in check, make sure your day and week are not hectic or overwhelming. Some good questions to ask are “What do we have to do this week? What do I absolutely need to get done today? Am I on a more stressful day of my cycle? What can I expect of myself and the kids and what is too much right now?”
Are you going camping tomorrow? Maybe it’s not the best time…
Create a New Tradition
One thing I enjoy, is making the process of picking to preserving an “exciting” process. This can prevent so much stress and bring joy in it’s place. I love this time of year and the kids see how special these times can be. They only happen once a year.
Some days may just wind up being a mess and that’s alright. You are learning to make a new normal each time you incorporate something into the schedule. The more something is done, the more you and your kids will get used to it.
A new tradition or routine is born.
Have Low Expectations
I feel like each time I write about enjoying life with kids it involves lowering expectations. It just works! I can’t focus both on accomplishing task and on caring for people well at the same time. when there are people to take care of, they get the priority. That’s how it should be. Your time is not wasted because you didn’t get to a certain number of canned pickles. It may be hard to preserve with kids but remember: You probably won’t recall the amount you finished but your kids will remember the attitude you have in the summer as you brought in the bounty. Choose to make good memories together.
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